Lip-syncher gets her 15 minutes of fame

BEIJING (Reuters) - Lip-synch and you could be almost as famous as Michael Phelps.

Lin Miaoke, a nine-year-old Chinese girl who performed at the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, returns to the Xizhongjie Primary School of Dongcheng District in Beijing August 9, 2008 in this photo distributed by China's official Xinhua News Agency. REUTERS/Xinhua/Zhou Liang

A worldwide media survey on Friday showed that the winner of eight swimming gold medals at the 2008 Olympics is the most famous figure at the Beijing Games.

But Lin Miaoke, the pretty little girl who lip-synched at the opening ceremony for the real singer who had crooked teeth, is catching up fast.

The Texas-based Global Language Monitor, which analyses the global media to see whose name gets mentioned most, found, not surprisingly, that Phelps topped the latest findings.

“Michael Phelps has joined the athletes’ pantheon of Tiger Woods, Michael Jordan, Pele and Ali,” said Monitor President Paul Payack.

Olympic glory could translate into millions for Phelps. But Lin Miaoke may well have to settle for 15 minutes of fame on the world stage.

The nine-year-old was praised for her cute performance at the spectacular opening ceremony but the organizers then sparked outrage when admitting she was a photogenic stand-in for the real singer, Yang Peiyi.

The story made Lin Miaoke an instant worldwide media hit, who in the Monitor’s “TrendTopper Buzzmeter” knocked Chinese basketball player Yao Ming into third place.

The media are remorseless and unforgiving when it comes to Olympic failure -- American sprinter Tyson Gay, Chinese hurdler Liu Xiang and British marathon runner Paula Radcliffe all plummeted in the popularity stakes for not delivering.

But the contest for the most famous figure of the Olympics is certainly not over yet.

Usain Bolt hurtled up the charts to number four after his world-record performance in winning the 100m in spectacular style.

But the next soundings, being taken after Bolt did the double and landed the 200m in another world record time, could well have him battling with Phelps as the media darling of Beijing 2008.

Editing by Alex Richardson